The city of Grozny in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Authorities have sent gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic to secret prisons that have been described as "concentration camps." Photo by Alexxx1979; courtesy Wikimedia Commons

NYC Activists Protests Gay Arrests in Chechnya

BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS, WASHINGTON BLADE

Roughly 60 LGBT rights activists gathered outside the Russian consulate in New York on Saturday to protest the arrest of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya.

RUSA LGBT, a group of LGBT Russian speakers and their supporters, organized the protest that included a memorial. Members of ACT UP New York, Human Rights First, Rise and Resist, the Caribbean Equality Project and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah also took part.

Memorial for Tortured and Murdered LGBT Chechens

"We are here to support our compatriots, our Russian-speaking LGBT community in Chechnya," said Lyosha Gorshkov of RUSA LGBT in a press release. "Also we are here to demand human rights for everybody."

Milk from "RuPaul's Drag Race" also participated in the protest.

"We can't just care about what's happening in our own country, in our own LGBT community," said Milk in a video that ACT UP New York uploaded to YouTube. "We have to care about the world so this type of brutality doesn't happen to everybody."

Milk Queen from Rupaul's Drag Race to LGBT Americans

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, earlier this month reported Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucuses. The Washington Blade has confirmed additional reports that indicate these men have been sent to secret prisons.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and the Kremlin have repeatedly sought to dismiss the arrests and Novaya Gazeta's reporting on them.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and the State Department have both urged the Russian government to investigate the arrests. President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have not spoken publicly about them or the secret prisons.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.
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